The boughs thereof "Her boughs" - קציריה ketsireyha, MS. and Vulg.; that is, the boughs of the vineyard, referring still to the subject of the dialogue above.
The scarcity of fuel, especially wood, in most parts of the east is so great, that they supply it with every thing capable of burning; cow-dung dried, roots, parings of fruit, withered stalks of herbs and flowers; see Matthew 6:21-30. Vine-twigs are particularly mentioned as used for fuel in dressing their food, by D'Arvieux; La Roque, Palestine, p. 198. Ezekiel says, in his parable of the vine, used figuratively for the people of God, as the vineyard is here: "Shall wood be taken thereof to do any work? or will men take a pin of it to hang any vessel thereon? Behold, it is cast into the fire for fuel; " Ezekiel 15:3, Ezekiel 15:4. "If a man abide not in one, "saith our Lord, "he is cast forth as a branch of the vine and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned;" John 15:6. They employed women and children to gather these things, and they laid them up in store for use. The dressing and pruning their vines afforded a good supply of the last sort of fuel; but the prophet says that the vines themselves of the beloved vineyard shall be blasted, withered, and broken, and the women shall come and gather them up, and carry away the whole of them to make their fires for domestic uses. See Harmer's Observations, vol. i., p. 254, etc.
When the boughs thereof are withered - This is a further description of the desolation which would come upon Babylon. The idea is, that Babylon would be forsaken until the trees should grow and decay, and the branches should fall to be collected for burning. That is, the desolation should be entire, undisturbed, and long continued The idea of the desolation is, therefore, in this verse carried forward, and a new circumstance is introduced to make it more graphic and striking. Lowth, however, supposes that this refers to the vineyard, and to the fact that the vine-twigs are collected in the East from the scarcity of fuel for burning. But it seems to me that the obvious reference is to Babylon, and that it is an image of the great and prolonged desolation that was coming upon that city.
They shall be broken off - That is, by their own weight as they decay, or by the hands of those who come to collect them for fuel.
The women come - Probably it was the office mainly of the women to collect the fuel which might be necessary for culinary purposes. In eastern climates but little is needed; and that is collected of the twigs of vineyards, of withered stubble, straw, hay, dried roots, etc., wherever they can be found.
And set them on fire - That is, to burn them for fuel.
Everyone has opportunity to come to Christ and be converted, that He may heal them. But there will come a time when mercy will be no longer offered. Costly mansions, marvels of architectural skill, will be destroyed without a moment's notice, when the Lord sees that the owners have passed the boundaries of forgiveness. The destruction by fire of the stately buildings supposed to be fireproof is an illustration of how in a short time earth's architecture will lie in ruins.... TDG 152.3Read in context »